Using a Capo on an Electric Guitar

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by saleake, Apr 13, 2021.

  1. saleake

    saleake Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    The female lead singer in our band only wants to do songs in the key of the original recording. Her latest three songs are in Gb. She also wants to reduce the time between songs when we play live.

    In order to play in Gb, I have to capo the second fret. When I do that, my tuning goes sharp and I have to retune. When the song is over and I remove the capo, I have to retune because my tuning is flat.

    So, I can’t figure out a way to use a capo and reduce time between songs.

    Does anyone have any tips about using a capo? Does anyone know of a capo that doesn’t change pitch? I’ve been using Kyser electric guitar capos and G7 steel string capos.

    Thank you.
     
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  2. Mark the Moose

    Mark the Moose Tele-Afflicted

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    G7th capo is vastly superior to the spring loaded style. Also, maybe just have a second guitar tuned down a half step?
     
  3. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Friend of Leo's

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    Yep. That maybe. Your capo is too powerful possibly. An adjustable with lower clamping force might be just the ticket. Quick test, if you rest your finger across the same fret does that cause your tuning to move sharp?
     
  4. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Poster Extraordinaire

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    I use a D'Addario NS Capo Lite to switch from open G to open A with no tuning issues.

    Are you clamping down on the capo particularly tight.
     
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  5. Marc Morfei

    Marc Morfei Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Do not re-tune to the capo. As you noticed, when you take off the capo you will be out of tune and need to re-tune again. Instead, after the capo is on, gently tug or push on the strings a bit to bring them back to pitch.

    Also, group a few songs together that use the same capo position. And put these either first or last in the set. That way you only transition once, not twice.
     
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  6. mfguitar

    mfguitar Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Never liked the Keyser, I always thought there was too much tension. I use a Schubb that has a fine-tuning screw so you dial just the tension you need. You can also experiment with the angle that you place the capo on the fretboard. I clamp closer to the fret on the high end.
     
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  7. Alamo

    Alamo Doctor of Teleocity

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    I really like my Shubb capo with fine adjusting screw, also a D'Addario NS knock off.
    they're like cat paws fretting the strings.:cool::)

    cute-kitty-paws-500x619.jpg

    Spring loaded ...well that's more of a nut crusher or garlic press. :rolleyes: they're terrible in my book.

    this_is_a_real_handshake_bodybuilder.jpg
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2021
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  8. ricknbaker

    ricknbaker Tele-Afflicted

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    Shubb works for me too

    IMG_20210413_185933.jpg
     
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  9. memorex

    memorex Friend of Leo's

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    I hate capos. I used to forget to take 'em to the gigs all the time, and then there's the tuning issues. If I were gigging in your situation, I would consider a Variax. It supports multiple alternate tunings.
     
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  10. AAT65

    AAT65 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Put the capo on fairly near the fret and don’t squeeze it on too tight. Don’t shuffle it around when it’s on, just out it on straight and clamp it on gently. I have a cheap no-name spring-loaded capo and no tuning problems.

    [Edit: now I’m thinking about it I went to check... it’s a Jim Dunlop, not as anonymous as I’d thought!]

    (BTW I’d say you’re playing in F#... doesn’t 6 sharps seem nicer than 6 flats??;))
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2021
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  11. saleake

    saleake Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    Thank you to all who posted. As you advised, the Kyser Spring loaded capo was applying too much pressure. But, when I tried the G7 again, and only tightened it slightly, it worked like a charm!
     
  12. hmemerson

    hmemerson Tele-Meister Vendor Member

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    I've been using a capo on my electric guitars forever, at least.

    I use .013-.054 sets, so I'm definitely not doing that thin-string-thing.

    I have always placed my capo directly on top of the fret wire with the leading edge going down the center of the wire. I tighten it as much as needed and it really does not affect the pitch for obvious reasons. I use the NS Capo for wide, curved necks.

    It may take a little practice, but it's the best way I can think of to address a situation like you're facing.

    Best,
    Howard Emerson
     
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  13. BB

    BB Poster Extraordinaire

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    I have around 8-10 capos of various ilks. Most have showed up in the gig bag storage area of guitars I bought to flip.

    Keysers, Jim Dunlop Trigger, a G7 (lite?) and a couple of ancient, vintage ones.

    This Sunday during worship, we played a song in Eb. Normally I'd just play, but thought I'd try a capo on the first fret and play in D position. Took out the trusty Shubb, adjusted the tension and it works perfectly......no re-tuning. The Keysers and Triggers are good, but the Shubb makes it easy peasy.
     
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  14. MatsEriksson

    MatsEriksson Tele-Afflicted

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    Yes, I can even use something called THIRD HAND CAPO which has rubber pads for each individual string, for opening them up and leave 1-2-3-4 strings open and not capoed. When I bend with my whammy bar they even come back in tune.

    The main reason capos don't work on electrics, is the sensitivity of back and forth vibrato on the thinner strings than on any acoustic PLUS (the more important thing) tall fret wire. If the frets are too tall (not fat, they can be narrow) too, each string may get different treatment from a capo with all "rail rubber" on. Like some said if you can put it on the top of the fret, there's no air underneath the string from which it has room and leeway to move around and get stuck (kink and bind). However, this works better on flat and wide frets. Narrow ones may be a chore to nail it perfectly.

    I get the sense that your singer wants to sing in original key and that you come up with 3 Gb tunes in a row, or F# is that maybe the original songs was played in dropped Eb tuning? And then they played (fingered) the regular G chord shape instead? I would tune drop Eb, and used the capo on first fret if I had to play regular tuning. And ditch the capo when doing those pesky Gb numbers but play the regular cowboy chords.

    - - - - - - - - - -

    Take any electric guitar, tune it up dead on center 0 cent in a decent tuner, or very accurat strobe one. regular tuning. Now press a barre chord in the form of E major shape but up at the 9th fret. It would turn out a C# major. Now, do not play the whole chord, play just the major third, of the plain G-string. Take a good look of this on the tuner what it reads. Now, without moving any other finger, take off the barre finger ONLY, take a good look on your tuner the reading of the major third again, only the G-string. It went a tad sharper as you press your index barre finger, and then turns flat when you take it off doesn't it?

    Now think this chord that you play full, in any tuning, BUT with a capo too, anywhere on the neck, 2nd fret, 3rd fret, 5th fret, and you have to play that chord up there again....all pressdowns on any fret will bring a single string up in pitch, and now the G-string has gone up several cents in pitch, but some other strings not, and some maybe even more. You press down ONE string 3 times. Once with the capo, 2nd with the barre finger, and 3rd with the rest of the fingers, little wonders they go too sharp in pitch, and so much that you hear that it is out of tune.

    By and large use any capo on which you can adjust tension on.
     
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  15. loopfinding

    loopfinding Friend of Leo's

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    i would just try to do it sans capo if it's possible, if it's that little of material.

    is it that you need the capo for stuff where you're playing up higher and open strings are ringing out?
     
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  16. Jeremy_Green

    Jeremy_Green Tele-Meister

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    Sounds to me like either your capo is squeezing too tight.. Or your aren't putting it on carefully enough. Try moving it back on the fret, meaning not right behind the fret where you typically finger it, but on the headstock end of the fret. You are bending the strings somewhere in this.

    P.S. Always listen to your singer and where they want things played key-wise! I ALWAYS defer to them.
     
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  17. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    First: Setup your nut. Make sure the strings are real low to fret 1 when capo'd at fret 3. .005 clearance more or less. Then when you capo it should not make you out of tune.
    Also: Have you checked video on the G# songs? For some reason, many songs listened to off the internet are 1/2 note off. If you watch the video, you can see if the player is playing in G or G# etc.
    3rd: Prima Donna syndrome. You need to talk with your singer. Is she worth the hassle?

    Kyser. My Kyser works perfectly, in fact it's the only one of 4 or 5 capos I have that does. It squeezes very tight. A capo should squeeze tight.

    I love the Shubb compact design, I have 3 Shubbs. None of them will work properly on my electric guitars.
     
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  18. Oldsmobum

    Oldsmobum Tele-Holic

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    The first capo I got was the typical configuration from fender. I have very strong hands and it is annoyingly stiff- I can’t see in what situation they would ever be appropriate... Always pulled sharp. Maybe with 14’s on an acoustic? If an 8 year old can fret a string- there is no reason a capo needs such a strong spring that it hurts to clamp on your hand.

    I got one of the Daddario adjustable ones, that come backed all the way out from the factory, which works okay for the acoustic. Electric, it’s completely unusable. Pulls the strings sharp at very different intervals, and the tuning is a mess. The adjustability is a gimmick on those because I can’t see needing more clamping than the minimum and there is definitely a need for even lighter.

    I can only assume that there must be better ones and the chains are too stupid to stock them. 100+ years later, the invention of the atomic bomb and manned flights to the moon, and meanwhile capos still suck? It seems impossible.
     
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  19. Musekatcher

    Musekatcher Friend of Leo's

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    Most capo's will pull the strings out of pitch, unless they are adjustable, and you take the time and develop the skill to quickly tweak/correct the tuning. Its too much trouble, and why folks instead develop the skills to not need one. But -

    The Gb Eb thing is not a reason for a capo, at all. BECAUSE the originals are detuning their guitars. You can fake it around by using a capo, or carry two guitars. Capos are for saving skills development time, and attractive to those looking to save time, including the time to get pitch and tuning correct. So a capo is a clue that pitch is going to be compromised, due to the mechanics of a capo, and the short cut approach to skills.
     
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  20. rand z

    rand z Friend of Leo's

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    This.

    Shubb or any capo with adjustable tension.
     
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